Thank you to the nearly 50 parents, staff and residents who attended the Community Forum on Monday night. I thought the discussions surrounding the 2017-2018 budget, the state legislature’s proposal for property tax reform and the county’s reassessment process were constructive and informative. As an epilogue, I want to summarize our presentations and discuss some of the concerns raised during the forum.
I have discussed property tax reform a few times now, including sharing the district’s concerns about how it will diminish local control and unfairly shift the tax burden from commercial entities to individuals. However, I think it is important to not only discuss our concerns with the proposal, but also to offer some suggestions that could assist with the problems that lawmakers say are driving the demand for reform. While we recognize that some of these ideas would require major changes in law, we believe that the legislature should explore all available options.
Last week, the Conestoga Valley School Board announced that they will be voting on the next superintendent, Dr. David Zuilkoski, at their March 13 meeting. I’ve invited “Dr. Z” to introduce himself a little to the CV community.
Hello CV! I am Dr. Dave Zuilkoski, but you can call me Dr. Z. I am humbled and excited about the opportunity to be your next superintendent! First and foremost, I would like to thank Dr. Huesken for his graciousness in offering me the chance to be a guest blogger on his site. While I will be spending the next few months getting to know everyone, I wanted to take the time to share a little bit about myself.
Now that springtime is just around the corner, the district budget generally takes center stage as a main focus during the school year. Rising pension contributions, healthcare increases, cyber school tuition and special education costs continue to make funding public education a major concern across the board.
There continues to be discussion about Senate Bill 76, also known as the Property Tax Elimination Bill, which is expected to be introduced in the state Senate in the coming months. Because of that, I wanted to share some additional thoughts on the proposal and introduce CV’s new information sheet on it.
Conestoga Valley School District is currently in its last year of its Keystones to Opportunity grant, which allows the district to partner with Steps to Success, Inc., to provide tuition-free Pre-Kindergarten classes to qualifying children in the CV area. With the program in its final year, I invited our Director of Elementary Education, Dr. Kelly Cartwright, to speak a little more about our goal to continue these kinds of partnerships.
Education leaders across the state welcomed Governor Wolf’s budget proposal on Tuesday with its $100 million increase in state funding for basic education as well as a $25 million increase for special education. The governor’s proposal would mean Conestoga Valley would receive 5.9% more in state funding for the 2017-2018 school year, the highest percentage increase in the state.
Once again, Conestoga Valley is facing a tough budget for the upcoming school year. At their last meeting, the board passed two resolutions: One to apply for exceptions that would allow CV to increase the tax rate above the limit set by the Commonwealth and another to advertise the preliminary budget. The board will vote on the preliminary budget proposal at its February meeting.
We’re just over halfway through the first month of the year, but before we leave 2016 completely behind, I want to acknowledge all of the ways our students and staff reached out to the community over the past few months. Students from every school and every grade level gave back this recent holiday season, helping people in need here at home and around the world.